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Huntington Town Board OKs $9.7M in bonds for improvements

The property at the former New York State

The property at the former New York State Armory in Huntington Station, seen here Dec. 21, 2016, is now home to the Conte Community Center. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Huntington Town Board approved seeking about $9.7 million in bonds to pay for highway equipment, road signs, and renovations at the James D. Conte Community Center in Huntington Station and other projects, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

For the Conte center, a former armory that is to include a full-size indoor basketball court and meeting rooms, the total amount to be bonded, over several years, is $8.5 million. But the actual amount to be borrowed this year is $1.3 million to go toward renovating the building.

Among other projects the bonding will cover are $735,000 for improvements to the Halesite Park bulkhead, $1.2 million for highway department equipment, $800,000 for drainage improvements at several locations and $300,000 for traffic signals around town.

The town board voted 4-1 to approve the bonding at its April 4 meeting.

Petrone said bonding helps keep taxes low and takes advantage of the town’s Triple A credit rating.

“To keep a town in good fiscal order you need to make sure it’s infrastructure is good, safe, and kept up,” Petrone said. “Bonding is a great solution to take care of expensive projects or maintaining infrastructure when you have a fiscally strong town.”

Town board member Gene Cook, as he has done in years past, voted against all the bond resolutions except for the Conte Center because he thinks Huntington Station has been “neglected for years” and the center will be a good addition to the community. He said bonding for equipment and vehicles with a useful life that expires before the life of the bonds is “ridiculous” and voted against the measures.

While he supported the Conte center, Cook said it and other projects should have been put into the budget instead of subject to borrowing that “passes the buck” to future generations.

Cook took particular exception to the town bonding $50,000 to buy sand for replenishment at Hobart Beach in Eatons Neck.

“We have contractors who work in town. We have beautiful sand all over the place. We we can store sand after it’s excavated and make deals with contractors in highway, work with the highway superintendent to stockpile the sand,” Cook said.

Petrone said clean sand was needed for the project to replace sand eroded over the winter. Hobart Beach’s first aid building also needed to be replaced, he said, and old jetties needed work.

“Bonding is the way to go especially when it comes to huge projects,” Petrone said. “If you don’t bond and you are spending $10 million on an infrastructure project, you have to tax the public in order to pay for it and that would mean triple and quadrupled taxes.”

Petrone said another round of bonding for about $3.5 million will be up for approval at the May town board meeting, including $500,000 for the Greenlawn Water District.

Other projects in the town’s recent bonding:

Road improvements: $2.8 million

Curb, sidewalk, pedestrian ramp improvements: $300,000

Parking meters: $230,000

Document imaging equipment: $200,000

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